Couple who fled ‘unsafe’ London to live in Spain say they are now saving £1,000 a month and ‘living the dream’

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The couple fled ‘unsafe’ London to live in Spain after a stabbing on their street - and say they are not only ‘living the dream’ but also saving £1,000 a month.

A couple fled “unsafe” London and emigrated to Spain after a stabbing on their street - and say they save £1,000 a month living abroad. Tim Sunderland, 35, and his fiancée, Sally Biddal, 33, decided to leave their new build studio flat in Fulham for Nerja in Andalusia.

The couple claim the cost of living crisis combined with a spate of local crimes in their area made their life in London “a chore”. Having grown up in Hammersmith and Fulham, Londoner Tim felt “there was a lot of tension” in the capital - his friend was mugged twice and lots of watches and phones in their area were stolen.

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Tim, who runs a multi asset brokerage Mitto Markets, decided to shut up shop in the UK in March - and now is a digital nomad. This new lifestyle means he can roam around different countries with access to the internet his only requirement.

Tim is running his company from his laptop on a sunny terrace with a sea view and says he now has a “happy perspective on life”. Tim can end up working from 8am until 9pm and wanted to make the most of “precious resources - time and happiness”.

The couple claim living in Spain saves them £1,000 every month - and so far, they’ve saved themselves £3,000 by moving out of London and Tim insists they have “absolutely no regrets”. Tim said: “It doesn’t feel like a holiday from Monday to Friday.“

Me and my fiancée both run very full-on businesses and we’re entirely focussed on that. Taking on such a heavy work commitment like we have, it’s become completely necessary to take more care of our mental health – and living near the sea in a sunny country and away from a major city, it helps us keep perspective on life.

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“You rarely ever hear sirens. I have maybe heard two in the three months we’ve been here versus three every two hours in London.“

Tim Sunderland and his fiancée, Sally Biddal, in Spain.Tim Sunderland and his fiancée, Sally Biddal, in Spain.
Tim Sunderland and his fiancée, Sally Biddal, in Spain. | Tim Sunderland / SWNS

The week we were packing up to leave, a kid was stabbed on my road. I could see some of the blood stains on the pavement and thought: “Thank God we’re off”.

Tim added: “The cost of living is way cheaper here. Eating and drinking out is noticeably more affordable. Just the other night, I had a pint of local beer, large bottle of water and two tapas dishes which only came to €4.65.”

Tim owns his flat in Fulham, but if he was renting his house it would cost at least £2,300 a month whereas a like for like holiday apartment in Nerja costs just £1,700 a month.“Everything is cheaper here, but rent especially so,” he said.

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Due to Brexit and new regulations, Tim can only remain in the EU’s Schengen zone for 90 out of 180 days at a time, which means the couple can only stay in Spain for three months before they have to leave and cannot return to a Schengen country for another 90 days.

“We’re doing 90 days in Spain then 90 in Montenegro, then we will head back to Spain,” he said. “It’s not as easy as it was to live in Spain as it was pre-Brexit.“

But there you can still get a visa if you can prove you are generating income in Spain and employing other people - so we are hopeful we will be able to get this.” Tim and his partner, Sally, who runs a remote digital agency called Dandelion social, are currently renting a long-term Airbnb for 90 days in Nerja, costing around 60 euros per night.“

The work culture is different here,” Tim said. “Here everyone works to live, rather than the other way round.”

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Tim says it is hard to think of the draw backs. “I’m clutching at straws, but there is less convenience of everything,” he said.

“There are no Lime bikes, you don’t get Deliveroo. In some ways it’s like the lifestyle has gone back 20 years, it’s very old school, but we love it.”

Both Tim and Sally have other remote workers on their teams and Tim is planning to expand the business to employ more people. “They will be allowed to work abroad too if they want, it’s only fair,” he said.

“The pay for a grad salary for someone living in London now is just unrealistic.” The soon-to-be married couple say their family have also been very supportive of their Spanish venture.

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“They think it’s brilliant, they are just jealous and want us to carry on,” Tim said. “We come back to England fairly regularly.”

Some four million Brits changed their career last year for more flexible working arrangements, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Andalusia vs London number crunching:

- Price of a meal out Andalusia: £8.64, London: £18.50

- Price of a pint Andalusia: £2.40, London: £6.00

- Cost of renting a one bed apartment/house Andalusia: £700, London: £2,070

- Monthly travel pass Andalusia: £30, London: £160

- Cost of childcare Andalusia: £290, London: £1,600


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